‘Our 2nd-hand motorhome had issues … lots of them!’

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grey nomads unhappy with motorhome
Malcolm and Dianne’s second-hand motorhome required repairs

When you’re buying a second-hand motorhome you can get a cracking deal … or you can find yourself in a whole world of pain.

Unfortunately, for grey nomads Malcolm and Dianne Burgan, they very much had the latter experience. Having previously travelled for many years in different Toyota Coaster vans, they decided to upgrade to something bigger when they retired.

After a lot of research, the Adelaide-based couple identified a Winnebago at a Sydney dealership that was offering three month and /or a 5,000km warranty. They flew down to inspect, and they bought it.

They began driving back to Adelaide. And that’s when things started to go wrong.

“We were stopped at traffic lights and a truckie next to us pulled down his window and said ‘is that smoke coming from me or from you’?” recalls Malcolm. “Of course, it was us.”

The smoke was only happening when the vehicle was idling and a mechanic diagnosed the problem as a leaky injector, and said the couple should be okay to get back to Adelaide.

“Every time we pulled into a campsite, people were staring and pointing at us as we had a cloud of smoke billowing along behind us,” said Malcolm. “Plenty of campers came up to offer suggestions as to what the problem was.”

Despite the drama, the Burgans had an enjoyable trip home staying in some beautiful locations without any other issues … apart from:

  • The CB radio turned on and off repeatedly due to a broken wire at the battery terminal.
    • The hinges holding the folding glass splash back gave way.
    • The brake warning light came on intermittently.
    • The battery went flat.

The motorhome was soon on its way back to Sydney to be fixed under warranty. And, three weeks later, the couple had their vehicle back again and all was good … or so they thought.

On their next trip out to country South Australia, they again got a flat battery. Then they had a tyre blow out. And that’s when they noticed the hazard lights didn’t work and that one of the rear brake lights had also given up the ghost. More repairs. The fridge and the TV satellite system had been mistakenly wired to the starter battery. The starter battery was on its last legs anyway. The hazard light switch had fallen apart. And the rear brake light needed rewiring.

Incredibly, that was not the end of it. The electric step then started playing up and a series of mix-ups led to the wrong spare part repeatedly being sent to the RV repair centre.

And all the time, the couple was off the road.

“When the new step finally arrived, it was fitted in a day,” said Malcolm. “The RV service centre had our vehicle for over six weeks to complete a job that took one day to repair!”

It’s been a rocky road and Malcolm admits the couple were naive in simply trusting the good name of a big company.

So, is there a happy ending?

“We now love our new motorhome,” he smiled. “And I’d certainly rather be retired than having to go back to work!”

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6 Responses to ‘Our 2nd-hand motorhome had issues … lots of them!’

  1. They were very lucky that the dealer honoured warranty, even though most of the problems other than tyre problem were created by dealer. –

  2. Unlucky with that one
    But buying new does not guarantee it will be fault free. Some new is ones have all sorts of bugs not as well built as something older and often have far too much whizz bang tangle dangle electronics that just fail.

    Seen plenty people have 2nd hand and no dramas at all.

    • You are not wrong Richard. I would need at least 3 pages to tell you all the problems we have had with our van!! Which was a new purchase. Aaargh.

  3. We also bought a used RV in Sydney, 40.000 km on the clock. The service there was terrible, but I couldn’t care less, they traded ours and after 4 years of owning it we got $16.000 more for the trade in. The one we bought, had 6 old tyres, that needed replacing, hot water system failed, replaced, engine fan blew up and destroyed radiator, airbox. The airconditioning was not suitable for this motorhome, fitted new rooftop air-con. The house batterys were shot, to the point it had leaks in them.replaced them. Solar sytem upgraded. Watertap sink leaking split. Replaced by steelmodel. Other then that, we now own a great motorhome, better then most new garbage quality made ones.

  4. Friend of ours, a widow in her late seventies, bought a pre loved Mercedes Sprinter motorhome. Loved it. Then the motor blew up at 100,000 kms.
    Cost her $23,000 for a new motor. Luckily she’s fairly well heeled and now she loves it again. Just finished 2300km tagalong with us and 20 others.

  5. Yep I read all the stories and feel for each individual that has had issues and in particularly those who get the run around by the dealer.

    Once I started looking and saw the poor workmanship on most RV’s I decided to build my own. yep it took ten months but I only have myself to blame if things go wrong. So far we have traveled 12000K’s and not an issue to talk about. It pays to have a trade back ground.

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